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Masked Seduction

Written by Stefanie London

Chapter Ten

Jason leaned back in a wooden chair, still wearing his suit from a day in the office, his face tilted up to the sky. It was evening, but the sun sat full on the horizon, not yet ready to surrender to night. He loved these days most, where the summer sunshine stretched on and on. But today he wasn’t able to relax. He glanced at his watch. It was ten past seven.

She wasn’t coming.

Either that or his instructions were too vague. Because he wasn’t at a bar at all. But he had shared a joke with this person—the only person he wanted his secret admirer to be—that his favourite place to sit and have a drink was his own backyard. Through the summers, his precious free time was spent in this very spot with the people he cared about. His brother, his friends. And her.

Anna.

He looked over to where the bottle of champagne sat chilling in a bucket, two empty glasses catching the golden light. In the past twelve months, he’d thought about inviting her over so many times. The need to clear the air, to confess, had driven him crazy. It clawed at the back of his throat constantly. The words itching to get out.

I love you.

Not only that, but he’d loved her since they were barely old enough to understand what those words really meant.

He’d known it was her the second he’d put his lips to hers. It was like all the puzzle pieces clicked and fell into place. The rose on the side of the mask—her favourite flower. The sweet scent of the perfume he’d given her on her birthday last year, that fateful night he thought he’d lost her forever. And the final piece…

Better to cross the line and suffer the consequences than spend your whole life staring at that line.

He’d said those very words to her when she’d been scared to make a change in her career. Going back to university to study teaching had gone against everything her mother had advised—which was to earn as much money as possible and hoard it for a rainy day. But she was wonderful with children, patient and calm and kind-hearted, and he’d pushed her to do what would enrich her life.

Jason glanced at the tall wooden gate that led into the backyard from the path beside the house. He’d left it unlocked in the hopes she would come to him.

Seven fifteen.

As if conjured by his deepest desires, the gate swung slowly open and she stood there. The love of his life. Dark-haired and blue-eyed and lips hovering in a tentative smile.

“You’re late,” he said, pushing out of his chair and crossing the garden to meet her.

“And you’re cryptic.”

She must have come straight from work. Her hair was knotted atop her head, her face mostly free of makeup. It was like the woman in the ball gown beckoning him into a darkened closet was someone else entirely. A figment of his imagination. A fantasy he’d dreamed into being.

He slid his hands along her jaw and tilted her face up to his. There would be time for explanations later. Right this second, he could only think about tasting her again. Anna’s lips parted under his own—without reservation or hesitation—her hands curled into his shirt, and she pressed against him. It was so right Jason wanted to freeze time and savour her kiss for the rest of his life.

“When did you know?” she asked. Her lips were pink and puffy, begging to be drawn between his teeth.

“The second you kissed me.” He pressed his forehead to hers, losing himself in her crystal-clear eyes. “I would have walked away if it were anyone else.”

“Then why did you ask if I would tell you my name?” Her eyes fluttered shut. “I thought you had no idea, and that I’d made this huge mistake. I thought…”

“Anna.” Saying her name was like healing every scratch on his heart. “How could I not know? I only asked because I wanted to hear why you’d done it. I wanted to know if you intended for it to be a one-night thing. If you’d planned to keep your identity secret.”

***

Anna could barely breathe. Her heart hammered against her ribcage, her head swimming like she’d twirled and twirled and twirled on the spot, until everything was a blur around her. Being in Jason’s arms—without her mask—was what she’d wanted for as long as she could remember.

“No.” She shook her head vehemently. “One night is…not enough.”

“It’s not enough for me, either.”

“I should never have pushed you away,” she said. “I was scared we might ruin things, but I wanted you. So badly.”

“Past tense?” His lips crept up into a smile.

“I want you. Now.” Her breath stuttered. “Always.”

As she’d walked up to the gate leading into his backyard, she’d been filled with trepidation. What if he was expecting someone else? What if she’d gotten his clue wrong? But the second she saw him stride across the yard, looking like a god about to claim her…nothing else had ever felt so satisfying.

“Now.” His soft smile turned into something darker and deeper. Something that made her tummy flutter and her thighs squeeze together. “As in, right now?”

“Right now.” She pressed up onto her toes and pushed herself hard against him. “Right this very second.”

“No time to take it inside?” His voice was soft and gravelly against her ear, his lips teasing her. When he nipped at her neck, a shot of pure excitement barrelled down her spine.

“I’m afraid not.”

Jason pressed her against the gate, his hand slipping past her waist to slide the metal bolt into the lock. Securing them. They hovered for a second, dwelling in that perfect, crackling pre-kiss anticipation that filled her heart and lungs with frenetic energy. Then they were frantic. His lips came crashing down on hers, his tongue sliding into her mouth as he pinned her to the gate. Her hands were in his hair, at his neck, and his were already burrowing under her clothes.

“Jason.” Her head lolled back against the wood as he pushed her skirt up around her waist and slipped his fingers beneath the elastic of her underwear. “Make me yours.”

“You’re already mine, Anna.” He kissed her long and deep while he stroked the sensitive apex of her sex. “You’ve always been mine.”

A smile curved on her lips and she stared into the eyes of the man she loved most in the world, knowing with every cell in her body she’d taken the right risk. “Your not-so-secret admirer.”


Ready for another rendezvous? Look for more books in the Melbourne After Dark miniseries: Unmasked by Stefanie London, available now from Mills & Boon Dare, and Hard Deal, available in September 2018.

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About the author

A voracious reader, Stefanie has dreamed of being an author her whole ...

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Stefanie London

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